Maldivian-born Ahmed Mohamed is the Head Experience Host at JA Manafaru, a 35-acre Preferred Hotel resort set in the Haa Alif atoll of the Maldives, which is a geographically diverse country made up of 1,190+ coral islands. Did you know that the name ‘Maldives’ is believed to have originated from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘garland of islands’? Anyways, as is evident from these gorgeous pics, JA Manafaru is the epitome of idyllic, tropical luxury and it offers private, island experiences (and complimentary seaplane transfers!) for couples and families in this Indian Ocean paradise. We quizzed Ahmed about what there is to do on his atoll and he assured us that, despite all the wonderful experiences on offer, the option of doing nothing is perfectly fine as well! Bliss!
Favourite locale when enjoying a day off
I sometimes visit the local island Hoarafushi, which is only 10 minutes away by speedboat from JA Manafaru. I visit friends and enjoy some fresh local coconuts. The afternoon tea is something that shouldn’t be missed when visiting a local island. Together with my friends, we like to sit at a cafe and eat the typical Maldivian Hedhikaa (short eats) which are made of rice, tuna, coconut, herbs and spices served like a pancake.
Where he takes his own guests when they visit
Most of my guests love boat trips so I normally organise a day trip to enjoy snorkelling, fishing and a dolphin cruise. For my guests who truly enjoy the water, I introduce them to our dive centre and our Marine Biologist who can explain what we are doing to keep our house reef blooming with new corals.
It’s a rainy day but we want to explore, what we should do
Rain does not stop you from enjoying and exploring our underwater beauty. If you are staying in one of our over-water villas, you could go snorkelling (or go scuba diving nearby) underneath your villa, or at the nearby house reef. We could also organise an amazing Maldivian cooking class conducted by our very own Maldivian Head Chef, to learn about the local cuisine. Or you could rejuvenate at our Calm Spa and Salon where we offer special treatments including massages, wraps, body polishes, and even Indian traditional Ayurvedic experience.
Night-time entertainment recommendations
We have a total of seven food & beverage outlets on the island, so our guests won’t tire by eating in one restaurant for the duration of their stay. We have: the Kakuni Breakfast Buffet Restaurant; Andiamo Bistro and Pool; Horizon Lounge where lunch is served till late afternoon; the White Orchid, our Asian fusion restaurant that boasts a Teppanyaki experience; or the Ocean Grill, for a nice steak or seafood dinner. We also have a unique wine cave, The Cellar, which is located 2.5 metres below the sea level, where guests can enjoy an exquisite meal while sipping a good bottle of wine from the 3,000 in stock!
After a long day under the sun, I would also recommend a star-gazing trip where you can admire the incredible sky and constellations aboard a dhonie, a traditional Maldivian boat. Or, enjoy a movie of your choice on the beach, under the twinkling Maldivian sky, where we set up private movie experiences for guests to enjoy.
We have special events throughout the week. We offer all our guests a chance to enjoy the sunset at Horizon lounge while we serve some unique cocktails and food. We have introduced a Sarong fashion show as a finale and the ever-popular Crab Race always get the entire crowd cheering for their chosen crab! We also feature a traditional Maldivian Malafay dinner complete with a Boduberu band entertainment – really fun! And, finally, our Lobster Night where we feature a five-course meal with different types of lobster and seafood delicacies, plus a wonderful dessert at the end.
Key phrase or phrases visitors should learn
Assalaamu alaikum – Hello
Bajaveri Henduneh – Good morning
Shukuriyya – Thank you
The best shopping and souvenirs
We have a Lifestyle Boutique on the island offering amazing souvenirs from the Maldives, traditional sarongs, fashionable beachwear, Panama hats, and shirts.
A child-friendly thing to do or place to go
We have our own Cool Zone (Kids Club) where children can enjoy a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities like arts & crafts, origami, treasure hunting, marine biology presentations, etc.. Teenagers can enjoy the Chill Zone where we offer different types of video games, including the flight simulator, billiard, darts, table soccer, table tennis, futsal and tennis.
Best kept secret or favourite hidden treasure
One thing that sets us apart, and is my favourite secret at JA Manafaru, is that we have a second, completely secluded and uninhabited island that is available for guests to visit for the day, or even for an overnight, castaway-style escape – Castaway Island! Escapes to the Castaway island of Govvafushi are perfect for couples and something that families love. Guests have time to enjoy the natural beauty of the island all to themselves. We leave them with a delicious basket of gourmet snacks and they can experience the seclusion and privacy of their very own island escape.
The best way to get to the airport
The best way to get to the airport is by taking a seaplane, as you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the beautiful islands while you fly. The islands are atolls, surrounded by white, powdery beaches, with turquoise waters within their own lagoons and the deep blue sea around them. Together, they resemble a string of pearls that make up the archipelago of the Maldives.
Best time of the year to visit
Maldives is a tropical country, therefore, you could visit us anytime throughout the year. However, most people come between November and April.
Anything else we should know when visiting
Be prepared for a memorable stay and do not forget to keep your camera handy at all times. You will be amazed with the scenic views from the time you will step into the seaplane to the time you arrive at JA Manafaru and beyond.
Some people are worried that they will get bored all tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the busy world. To these people we share one of our true Maldivian sayings: in the Maldives, there are a thousand different ways of doing NOTHING!
For more information, or to book, click here.